Tree-faller killed fighting forest fire near Sechelt, B.C.
60-year-old's death is the first wildfire-related fatality this year
A tree-faller was killed while fighting a forest fire on a steep slope on the Sunshine Coast of B.C. on Sunday.
The B.C. Coroners Service identified the man as John Joe Phare, aged 60, of Roberts Creek. The coroner says Phare was contracted to the B.C. Wildfire Service and was working on the Old Sechelt Mine fire felling trees.
At about 11:45 a.m. PT on July 5, he was struck by a falling tree.
WorkSafeBC and the BC Coroners Service are now investigating.
The fire was first reported on Thursday and is now estimated to be 80 hectares in size and only 40 per cent contained, according to the B.C. wildfire website. It is believed to have been caused by humans.
"The fire has produced a high volume of danger trees in the area by burning tree roots and damaging tree limbs. The public have reported that they can hear these trees falling periodically, and the public is cautioned to stay out of the area to allow crews to work safely," said a statement released by Const. Harrison Mohr.
The Sunshine Coast Regional District issued an evacuation alert for 18 seasonal residences.
The death of the tree-faller is a reminder of just how dangerous this and other fires burning in the province are, said police.
"This is a tragic example of how truly dangerous it is for those battling these wildfires, and should serve as a reminder of just how important it is for us all to do our best to prevent these fires from starting in the first place," said Mohr's statement.
In 2010, two air tanker pilots were killed when their plane crashed fighting a forest fire in the B.C. Interior.
Currently there are about 180 wildfires burning in B.C., and much of the Metro Vancouver area has been blanketed by thick smoke from several fires burning on the South Coast region.